One of the big concerns advisors should have right now is how the newly Democratic House might affect fiduciary regulation. Most will be aware that the SEC Best Interest rule was much lighter touch than the first version of the DOL rule. However, on top of the DOL rule making a return in 2019, the SEC could be derailed by the House. Maxine Walters, a staunch fiduciary advocate, will now head the House Financial Services Committee and it seems liklye the House will call SEC head Jay Clayton in for a questioning session where they press him to add a fiduciary element to the current Best Interest rule.
FINSUM: The exact path to derailing the SEC rule is still a little unclear. Because Trump has already appointed the heads of the relevant agencies, the House has an unclear ability to get in the way.
One of the safe bets during bouts of volatility since the Financial Crisis has been to pile into Treasury bonds anytime things got tough. Every time stocks dipped, the bonds tended to rally strongly and became a safe haven. However, since the recent downturn in equities, this correlation has ceased. Even amidst stock and oil’s plunges recently, Treasuries have basically remained flat, giving no comfort to investors.
FINSUM: The big difference this time around is that the volatility is coming during a period of rising rates, which means Treasury bonds are not as safe a bet as in the past several years.
The Brexit deal has taken so long to figure out that it mostly seemed hopeless. Markets were legitimately pricing in the chances of a no-deal Brexit. Now, the EU and UK have announced they have come to a provisional agreement. While that is cause for some relief, it is very far from a done deal as both the UK and European Parliaments need to endorse the agreement. The UK side in particular may be tricky as PM Theresa May needs to rally an extremely factionalized government behind her.
FINSUM: This could go many ways, but we think either everything will just fall into place quietly, or there will be major fireworks
2019 is shaping up to be a rough year for markets. Growth is weakening, inflation may rise, and the tax cuts’ contributions to earnings and GDP are going to fade. With that in mind, the Wall Street Journal is arguing that gold is likely to be the “best house in a bad neighborhood” next year. One research analyst summarizes gold’s outlook like this, saying “Being long gold has been a tough investment since 2012, and so often, when we see the yellow metal gaining traction, the [U.S. dollar] regains its mojo, and we see the inevitable reversal … However, as we look into our crystal ball and gaze into 2019, emerging warning signs can be seen that suggest 2019 could be the year where gold bulls finally get their day in the sun”.
FINSUM: If asset classes all become correlated and are trending downward, there is a view to gold doing well. However, we are worried about inflation and rates rising, both of which would strengthen the Dollar, and in turn hurt gold.
The whole Fiduciary rule saga seemed to be over earlier this year, but now that couldn’t be further from reality. While the DOL seemed to gracefully fade from the limelight in March, the truth is that the rule is a “sleeping giant’ according to one industry lawyer. That giant has now woken up, as the DOL is set to release an updated version of its rule in September of next year. The big question is how the SEC rule will be affected, and whether the rules will work in tandem. In either case, advisors and brokers seem likely to see much more regulation within a year or so.
FINSUM: The other big question is whether the political changes in Washington mean the SEC rule might be scuttled in some way. We sense some big changes happening.